Burnaby has grown up and perhaps rivalling their neighbour, Vancouver. Here is an excerpt from the Globe and Mail, Mar 30, 2012 edition by Kerry Gold:
The Burnaby skyline is about to be transformed. The city is looking at plans to raise skyscrapers in Metrotown possibly as high as 59 storeys, with plans for more major towers to sprout over the next few years.
Since the city nearly doubled allowable building density in 2010, Metrotown has become one of the fastest growing areas in the Lower Mainland, with a projected growth of 30,000 more residents and 20,000 more workers over the next 30 years, according to Edward Kozak, Burnaby’s assistant director of current planning. Projects under way include Intracorp’s 46-storey Metroplace and 38-storey Silver towers, and the accompanying major revitalization of Beresford Street, as well as Polygon’s 37-storey Chancellor.
There are nine more towers far into the approvals process, and three or four of those are expected to break ground in the next few months.
Metrotown may be experiencing a boom, but it’s all part of a density plan that goes back to 1977 and has been revised along the way, Mr. Kozak says. Zoning was amended in 2010 to allow more density in exchange for more amenities and cash contributions, dependent on a high calibre of architectural and public space design. Several of the towers soon to be completed fall under that specialized rezoning.
“I often get the concern raised, like, ‘Wow, this is unprecedented growth,’ says Mr. Kozak, “People are shocked when I tell them… it’s not unanticipated. It’s very deliberate. There have been peaks and valleys. Right now, this is a peak.”
Like Richmond, Metrotown is a major draw for the Mainland Chinese demographic that appreciates proximity to major amenities, shopping and transit. The Metrotown SkyTrain station is the second busiest in the region. Much of Metrotown already caters to a Chinese customer base, such as the Crystal Mall.
With a revised area plan under way to handle the increased density, Metrotown is shaping up to be a more vertical and dense, urbane neighbourhood. It is going beyond its claim for having Canada’s second biggest shopping mall and becoming an urban core, complete with restaurant, hotel and shopping destinations intended to draw residents. But if they should want to go to downtown Vancouver, it’s 20 minutes away on the SkyTrain, making Metrotown a commuter hotspot for residential development. To take advantage of the extra density permitted, however, developers have to offer something special in return, other than amenities such as a seniors’ centre or daycare.
“They are going to have to provide something much more unique, in terms of architecture,” says Mr. Kozak. “Most importantly, the developer will have to contribute to the community in more ways than just redeveloping a site.
“We are trying to create a compact urban core that is walkable, and linked to the rest of the region through transit,” adds Mr. Kozak.
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, the Lower Mainland is recognized world-wide. While prices may fluctuate in cycles as is typical in every market, there won’t be a meltdown in Greater Vancouver.